Category Archives: USA
First of all, the job report numbers for August 2012 came in at 96,000 jobs. Horrific. But unemployment went down because, AGAIN, people are dropping out of the job hunting market. Obama knew these numbers last night…but didn’t say anything. Why? Well, of course, that’s why.
Second thing is the is a fantastic fib that Obama’s deputy campaign manager told about job growth under the current president. Here’s Stephanie Cutter’s quote in full from MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” just so no one can accuse anyone of taking anything out of context:
“Well, I think that worker probably has a good understanding of what’s happened over the past four years in terms of the president coming in and seeing 800,000 jobs lost on the day that the president was being sworn in, and seeing the president moving pretty quickly to stem the losses, to turn the economy around. And over the past, you know, 27 months we’ve created 4.5 million private-sector jobs. That’s more jobs than in the Bush recovery (or) in the Reagan recovery.”
You’d think that if the Obama campaign wanted to peddle outright fabrications, they’d at least do it so they weren’t so easily debunked. But you don’t have to look very hard to see that Cutter, as Obama might say, is “just making stuff up.”
She starts counting private-sector job growth under Obama in February 2010 and, sure enough, in the 29 months since then (not 27 as Cutter says), there have been 4.5 million private-sector jobs created, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But keep in mind that February 2010 was fully eight months into the economic recovery. So Cutter has simply picked the worst month under Obama as her starting point, in order to make Obama’s job growth look as impressive as possible.
So, in fairness, let’s do the same for Reagan and Bush:
In the aftermath of the 1981-82 recession, private-sector jobs bottomed out in December 1982, the month after that recession ended. Twenty-nine months later, the private sector under Reagan had created 8 million jobs — nearly twice as many as under Obama.
How about Bush? Surely job growth during his administration was worse. After all, the president keeps telling us that his predecessor’s policies “resulted in the most sluggish job growth in decades.”
Except if you use the Cutter method, the private sector created 4.7 million jobs in the 29 months after July 2003, when the job market bottomed. In other words, Bush beat Obama by his own preferred measuring technique by 200,000 jobs.
It’s worth noting, too, that jobs started growing under Bush ONE MONTH after he signed his second major tax cut into law. It chopped capital gains and dividend tax rates and accelerated the schedule for the Bush income-tax rate cuts.
|BY NANCY FRAZIER O’BRIEN – CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE|
|TUESDAY, 28 JULY 2009|
|The work of two teams of Chinese scientists who created live mice from induced pluripotent stem cells is “another demonstration that researchers don’t need to destroy embryos” to achieve stem-cell advances, according to a pro-life official at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.The research done by separate teams in Shanghai and Beijing and published July 23 in the scientific journals Nature and Cell Stem Cell showed that the so-called iPS cells have “the full range of uses that embryonic stem cells are proposed for,” said Richard M. Doerflinger, associate director of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.
“The immediate finding is that induced pluripotent stem cells, created without harming any embryos, really are as versatile as embryonic stem cells,” he said. But Doerflinger also warned in a July 27 interview with Catholic News Service that this latest breakthrough in stem-cell research shows that iPS cells are “so powerful” that researchers “might be able to put them in a human embryo and change the genetic makeup of that child and all the future generations” related to the child. “It’s an ominous thing, that they could be remaking people’s genetic traits,” he added. “It’s a powerful technology and it could be misused.”
The two Chinese teams had varying degrees of success in creating genetic duplicates of mice by reprogramming skin cells from adult mice into iPS cells and then implanting the embryos created into a surrogate mother. The first team, led by Qi Zhou of the Institute of Zoology in Beijing and Fanyi Zeng of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, reported 27 live births, starting with a mouse named Xiao Xiao or “Tiny.” All 12 of the genetic duplicates that were mated produced offspring without abnormalities; the team reported hundreds of second-generation and more than 100 third-generation mice.
The second team, headed by Shaorong Gao of the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing, produced only two live births using the same technique, with one of those dying in infancy. The team is currently trying to mate the surviving mouse. In the U.S., the National Institutes of Health recently issued final guidelines for federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, requiring that such research use only embryos created for reproductive purposes at in vitro fertilization clinics and no longer needed for that purpose.
The draft guidelines set standards for voluntary informed consent by those donating the embryos, and said no NIH funds would be given for research that did not meet the standards. The final guidelines, however, set up an “alternative pathway” for the approval of funding of research involving embryos donated before the new guidelines took effect or involving stem-cell lines developed in foreign countries. A working group made up of about 10 scientists and ethicists is to look at each such application on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it meets the core principles of voluntary informed consent.
Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, strongly criticized the final guidelines and said the debate over embryonic stem-cell research “now shifts to Congress, where some members have said even this policy does not go far enough in treating some human beings as objects to be created, manipulated and destroyed for others’ use.”
Some had predicted that President Barack Obama’s decision to reverse the limits on funding of embryonic stem-cell research established under President George W. Bush would lead to the rapid expansion of such research, particularly at the university level. But the results of a survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education, published July 21, found that only 6 percent of major research universities — those with $100 million or more in federal grants — planned to increase research on human embryonic stem cells “by a large amount.”
The survey also found that most of the universities said they had increased their contribution to the indirect costs of scientific research on campus by 50 percent or more over the past five years. A federal policy established in 1991 limits the indirect costs that a university may collect on each federal research grant for expenses like photocopying, accounting and electricity.
Duncan Has Ear of Basketball Buddy President
Once a professional basketball player, the 6-foot-5-inch cabinet secretary also has the ear of President Barack Obama, a personal friend and long-time pick-up basketball buddy.
“We’ve played a few times since we’ve been here, haven’t played a ton,” Duncan said of the president. “We’ve both been a little bit busy.”
Since arriving in Washington, Duncan has been on the road one or two days a week, visiting schools and colleges and meeting with students, principals and teachers.
“The solutions are never going to come from Washington,” Duncan said. “So when I go out, I’m not just listening to the problems; I’m really challenging folks to come up and tell us the answers.”
This fall, Duncan, former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rev. Al Sharpton will embark on a five-city tour to raise awareness of the achievement gap between white and minority students.
“The gap is absolutely, morally unacceptable,” Duncan said. Planning is in the early stages and no dates or places have been decided, he said.
Watered Down State Proficiency Standards
Making an end run around the Bush administration’s controversial No Child Left Behind law, Duncan has argued many states and districts aren’t using data to reward good teachers and some states have watered down their proficiency standards so students and parents believe they are doing much better than they are.
Despite the problems, Duncan, a former Chicago schools chief, insists the states are ready for education reform.
Read the Entire Article: Duncan Faces Political Battle Over Education Reform – ABC News
Posted using ShareThis
Liquid Saltwater is Likely Present on Mars, New Analysis Shows
Salty, liquid water has been detected on a leg of the Mars Phoenix Lander and therefore could be present at other locations on the planet, according to analysis by a group of mission scientists led by a University of Michigan professor. This is the first time liquid water has been detected and photographed outside the Earth.
“A large number of independent physical and thermodynamical evidence shows that saline water may actually be common on Mars,” said Nilton Renno, a professor in the U-M Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences and a co-investigator on the Phoenix mission. “Liquid water is an essential ingredient for life. This discovery has important implications to many areas of planetary exploration, including the habitability of Mars.”
Renno will present these findings on March 23, 2009 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.
Droplets on a leg of the Mars Phoenix lander are seen to darken and coalesce. Nilton Renno, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences says this is evidence that they are made of liquid water. Previously, scientists believed that water existed on Mars only as ice or water vapor because of the planet’s low temperature and atmospheric pressure. They thought that ice in the Red Planet’s current climate could sublimate, or vaporize, but they didn’t think it could melt. This analysis shows how that assumption may be incorrect. Temperature fluctuation in the arctic region of Mars where Phoenix landed and salts in the soil could create pockets of water too salty to freeze in the climate of the landing site, Renno says.
Photos of one of the lander’s legs show droplets that grew during the polar summer. Based on the temperature of the leg and the presence of large amounts of “perchlorate” salts detected in the soil, scientists believe the droplets were most likely salty liquid water and mud that splashed on the spacecraft when it touched down. The lander was guided down by rockets whose exhaust melted the top layer of ice below a thin sheet of soil.
These images were acquired by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander’s Surface Stereo Imager on the 21st and 25th days of the mission, or Sols 20 and 24 (June 15 and 18, 2008). These images show sublimation of ice in the trench informally called “Dodo-Goldilocks” over the course of four days. In the lower left corner, lumps disappear, similar to the process of evaporation. Some of the mud droplets that splashed on the lander’s leg appear to have grown by absorbing water from the atmosphere, Renno says. Images suggest that some of the droplets darkened, then moved and merged — physical evidence that they were liquid.
The wet chemistry lab on Phoenix found evidence of perchlorate salts, which likely include magnesium and calcium perchlorate hydrates. These compounds have freezing temperatures of about -90 and -105 Fahrenheit respectively. The temperature at the landing site ranged from approximately -5 to -140 Fahrenheit, with a median temperature around -75 Fahrenheit. Temperatures at the landing site were mostly warmer than this during the first months of the mission.
Thermodynamic calculations offer additional evidence that salty liquid water can exist where Phoenix landed and elsewhere on Mars. The calculations also predicts a droplet growth rate that is consistent with what was observed. And they show that it is impossible for ice to sublimate from the cold ground just under the strut of the lander’s leg and be deposited on a warmer strut, a hypothesis that has been suggested. Certain bacteria on Earth can exist in extremely salty and cold conditions.
“This discovery is the result of the talent and dedication of the entire Phoenix team and NASA, whose strategy for Mars exploration and the Phoenix mission is ‘follow the water,’” Renno said.
Phoenix landed on Mars on May 25, 2008, and transmitted data back to Earth until Nov. 10. Scientists are still analyzing the information Phoenix gathered. The mission was led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Arizona. Among its preliminary findings, Phoenix verified that water ice exists in the just beneath the surface of Mars. It sent back more than 25,000 photos and deployed the first atomic force microscope ever used outside Earth. The lander was the first Martian spacecraft to document a mildly alkaline soil and perchlorate salts. It also observed snow falling from clouds on the Red Planet.
A paper on this research, written by Renno and dozens of his colleagues on the Phoenix mission, including principal investigator Peter Smith, is under review at the Journal of Geophysical Research.
By Alejandro Lazo and Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 27, 2009; A08
The Obama administration has proposed a sweeping change in the $85 billion-a-year student loan industry, one that could fundamentally alter the business of lenders such as Sallie Mae.
The proposal, included in yesterday’s budget outline, would end a program that pays government subsidies to private student loan companies. The administration said the shift, which would mean that all federal loans would come directly through the government, would save $4 billion annually and $47.5 billion over the next decade.
The changes could be a blow to companies such as Sallie Mae of Reston that receive subsidies to originate federally backed student loans. Shares of Sallie Mae, formally known as SLM Corp., plunged 31 percent yesterday on the news. The profitability of the student loan industry has faltered in recent years, first as Congress cut subsidies and then because of turmoil in the credit markets. Last year, dozens of lenders stopped issuing federally guaranteed loans, prompting concerns about whether students would get the money they needed for college. The Bush administration took several steps to shore up student lenders.
Yesterday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan signaled a shift from that approach, saying the program that subsidizes private lenders is “on life support.”
“Rather than continuing to subsidize banks, we want to help dramatically more students get more access to more aid,” Duncan said in a conference call with reporters. “Big picture . . . We’re going to save about $24 billion dollars over the next five years, and we want to actively invest that money in our students.”
Since the early 1990s, federal student loans have been implemented through two programs. The program that the administration proposes ending, the Federal Family Education Loan Program, uses private-sector lenders such as Sallie Mae and Citigroup to originate and service the education loans, keeping the debt off the government’s books. Under this program, the government pays a subsidy to private lenders. Congress sets the interest rate on loans, and the federal government covers nearly all the losses if a student defaults.
The other program, Direct Loan, is administered by the government and includes student loan debt in the government’s deficit. Under the proposal, this program would handle all federal loans. The approach outlined yesterday echoes one long favored by Democrats. House Education Committee Chairman Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who has been a vocal critic of what he has called “corrupt practices” in the student loan industry, said the proposal was a “a solid plan to make federal student loans more reliable while saving taxpayers billions of dollars.”
The proposal to do away with the Federal Family Education Loan Program stunned investors and Wall Street analysts who follow Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student lender. Loans originated through that program made up about 80 percent of the company’s total student loan portfolio at the end of 2008, with the rest being private loans.
“It could precipitate a collapse of the . . . industry because a lot of the lenders were holding on and hoping to survive until the end of the credit crisis,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the Web site FinAid.org. “But they could pull out completely because if there is no future, then there is no reason to stay.” Under the administration’s proposal, the private sector wouldn’t be completely cut out of the equation. The Education Department would contract with companies to service loans and collect payments. Officials yesterday said they expected some companies that now participate in the loan program to take part in a competitive process to service the loans. Sallie Mae made clear yesterday that it intended to bid for such contracts.
“We also note that the budget proposal looks to obtain ‘high-quality services for students by using competitive, private providers to service loans,’ ” the company said in a statement. “Sallie Mae is the largest and lowest-cost provider of student loan services, and we deliver the highest quality for students, schools and families.